Six of the standard eight participants of the 2010 Home Run Derby were recently announced. Miguel Cabrera, Vernon Wells, Robinson Cano and David Ortiz will represent the American League while only two sluggers have been named as National League representatives, Matt Holliday and Corey Hart.
While I don't have any issue with those men already announced (well, maybe a little with Cano), there is a gaping hole that can, and should, be filled by one of the game's premier power hitters, Prince Fielder.
I present to you five reasons why. Won't you come along for the ride?
1. You Know He'll Actually Hit a Few
Fielder may not have fared very well in his first Home Run Derby which took place in San Francisco as Fielder tried to blast batting practice fastballs into McCovey Cove, but he was young, inexperienced and probably succumbed a bit to the bright lights of the national stage. Still, he hit three that night.
The field would not be so lucky the second time around. Fielder and his max-effort swing tattooed ball after ball into the stands. After recent showings by guys like Troy Glaus (1 HR in 2006), Richie Sexson (1 HR in 2003), Bret Boone (0 HR in 2003), Brandon Inge (0 HR just last year), Jason Bay (0 HR in 2005)...
Look, I'm not expecting everybody to duplicate Josh Hamilton's 28-HR first round of 2008, but is hitting a few home runs in 10 swings really too much to ask?
Not for Prince Fielder it's not.
2. He Hits Tape Measure Shots
Wall-scrapers need not apply to the Home Run Derby. Sure, some sluggers have run into some bad luck under the bright lights but at least most guys that enter the Home Run Derby are true power hitters (Brandon Inge, I'm looking at you.)
To coin a cliche, when Prince Fielder hits a home run, it stays hit. In fact, I think one of the balls he hit in St. Louis in 2009 still hasn't landed yet.
In a competition where every successful play is a ball going over the outfield fence the extra excitement comes from watching how high and far they fly.
Fielder brings both of those attributes in droves.
3. He'll Agree To Participate
Bobby Abreu may be the most extreme example, but for several years now players have made mention of how the all-or-nothing approach in the Home Run Derby affects their swings and their subsequent at-bats that count (you know, those pesky regular-season ones).
2010 All-Stars like Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton stated their intent to decline should an invitation be sent their way for the Home Run Derby. Hamilton said "I feel like, 'Why mess up a good thing?'" and that he needed to keep the team in mind. Pujols, naturally, was more standoffish in his remarks: "I'm not doing it," Pujols said. "I don't care if they ask. I did it three times already...I don't feel like I want to do it this year, so that's it."
Fielder, however, has a natural home run swing that he could duplicate in his sleep. No tweak needed.
Therefore, Fielder would have no qualms about participation and would make it an easy situation for the event's organizers.
4. The Precedent Has Already Been Set
After winning the Home Run Derby in 2006, Ryan Howard failed to make the All-Star Team for the National League in 2007. It was a banner year for NL first basemen as even Dmitri Young was honored with a selection, a decision which left Howard on the outside looking in.
Despite not playing on Tuesday, Howard was busy Monday night as he was allowed to defend his title. He failed in his quest for a repeat, but the fact that he was there, swinging away, means that precedent has been established and it isn't a crime to have a non-All Star in the Derby under the proper circumstances.
5. He Won Last Year
Finally, the easiest argument is also the most basic one. Prince Fielder won the Home Run Derby in 2009 and, like Ryan Howard before him, ought to have the opportunity to defend his crown.
Despite already having one Milwaukee Brewer in the field in Corey Hart, Major League Baseball would be doing a disservice to players and fans alike by not allowing the reigning champ the opportunity to defend his crown.
If the league lets Fielder swing, he'll no doubt be beating off the challengers with a stick...a very big, very loud stick being swung in a natural arc that is capable of driving a baseball a tenth of a mile.
How could you not want that as a part of your showcase?